New beginnings. My first post of 2016 was all about goals, things I’d set out to do more of, do better, do less of; not resolutions, but goals. I’ve always felt that Usonians have watered down the meaning of what a resolution is. A goal, though, those are things that you aim for, they are attainable.
Entire fitness empires are built on resolutions. Want to know why the local gym has one hundred treadmills all facing the windows and you only ever see maybe three people on them? Because those gyms need to prepare for the flood of Resolutionists who flood their floors in January, sign up for a one-year contract while they’re still high on confidence, n’er to be seen again come mid-February.
Growing up Catholic and submitting to the required confessions on a regular basis, resolutions are like confessions of the average good Catholic kid: we just make something up so we have something to respond with when asked.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession.”
“What do you have to confess, my child?”
*thoughts swirling about in a mad frenzy to pick something good, something plausible* “Well, I hit my brother twice and I took the name of the Lord in vain once.” *congratulates self on this brilliant strategy*
“I see. Say three Hail Mary’s and two Our Father’s and you will be absolved.”
“Thank you, Father.”
Later, back at the pew, dutiful little Catholic that I was, I’d wait for my Uncle to get back from his run into the booth (yes, really, I went to grade school with my Uncle who was four months older than me) and we’d compare notes. We both knew we made up “sins” – all of the kids did. Nobody wanted to be the kid to kneel in the confessional and say, “Welp… I didn’t do a damn thing wrong in the last two weeks. Why? Because I’m a great kid. Well-behaved. Honestly, Father, this is a bit of a farce, ‘confess your sins’ and all that jazz.”
Confessions and Resolutions are similar. Society makes us feel like we absolutely need to be setting some sort of resolution to better ourselves. If we’re fat, we’re supposed to resolve to work out daily, consume all-things-kale, and revel in self-denial of every tasty morsel we crave. If we swear a lot, we’re supposed to resolve to swear less. If we love chocolate, we’re supposed to resolve to eat less. You get the idea.
Resolutions have been bastardized and became all about denial. Goals? Those are different. Goals are still (mostly) untouched and are pure and good. You tell someone that you have set a goal for yourself to lose five pounds and you get a pat on the back. “Nice job! Great goal! I know you can do it!” You say you set a resolution to lose five pounds, though, and you get that wrinkled-brow look of concern complete with a head-tilt and a heavy sigh, “Ohhh, that can be tough. I’ve tried. My cousin tried. Everyone I know has tried that. Well, good luck.”
Goals, however, are supported. My goals for 2016 were:
- Drink less adult beverages
- Keep learning Spanish
- Exercise more
- Read more
- Write more
- Make more memories with friends and family
- Take more photos and print them
- Make Alex the cat as comfortable as possible in his old age
So, how’d I do?
I did alright on drinking less adult beverages initially. Then the stress of a work-environment-gone-awry built up to a point where I knew I was trying to numb it with beverages but I was having a difficult time stopping. That’s one of the issues being a stress eater-and-drinker, you’re aware that the stress is there and you need to do something about it that is healthy, but you go for a quick “fix”. That fix, of course, doesn’t work, so not only is the stress still there, but you feel like shit on top of it. Nice thinking, Self.
I did, however, keep up with my Spanish lessons via the Duolingo app, missing very few days in the year, and those missed were only because I was nowhere near a data signal. This year, I’m continuing with the app and I am going to be starting up classroom lessons, earning some CEU’s in the process.
I also exercised more. My former employer was located in a great place where walking was a pleasure. It was typical for the coworker who became my friend and I to get out for a walk on a lunch break. Two miles in 30 minutes? No problem. Of course, even though I exercised more, I was maintaining weight instead of losing due to all those empty calories I was consuming.
I found I was reading less. At least less books for pleasure. I was reading a ton of articles for work and periodicals for personal gain, but the books I wanted to read were building up and I wasn’t getting to them. Books I was already in the middle of, “Ulysses” and “The Complete Works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky”, were still going (and still are), but slowly.
I made efforts to write more. Sometimes I succeeded, others I didn’t. And that was because I made more time for making memories with friends and family. There was our trip to Alaska, camping weekends, annual parties at Chez Muse, funerals for my sister and a beloved Great Uncle. Life had snuck in and switched up my plans.
We also took more photos, though printing them off hasn’t been done. Some of them turned out quite spectacular and I hope to get them on the wall to be appreciated.
And last, but not least, Alex the cat is still going strong as he approaches 19 years old. He’s deaf, has a death wish to be crushed underfoot, his kidneys are failing but he’s still chugging along. He also tolerates me giving him fluids every three days because afterwards he gets treats. (Nothing says “Welcome to our Home” quite like a bag of lactated ringers hanging from the floor lamp.) This winter we even went so far as to put a heating pad on the back of the couch and it didn’t take him but one day to figure out that he loved this new arrangement. Rupunzel the cat has also recently discovered the heating pad and some days, she can be found either trying to get Alex to move over and make room for her, or just kicking him off entirely so she can have a turn. Ah, kids.
So, all-in-all, I’m rather happy with how my goals progressed for 2016 and I shall work on them again in 2017. There will, however, be an addition. I quit my job at the end of last year so I could work on my goal of writing more and actually earning an income from it.
I’m happy to say that my stress level has fallen dramatically from the time I had made my decision through now. But, like that good little Catholic kid I was, feeling guilty for not having something to confess, I’ve found myself alternating between complete confidence in my making writing work and thinking, “just who do you think you are, Sarah!?“
Mr. Muse has assured me that we’re going to be fine as I pursue this goal. After all, we set up our expenses in such a way that we would be fine. But, the guilt. The waxing and waning of confidence. It’ll be a rollercoaster*, and I’ve never been particularly fond of those, but I think I’d better hang on and enjoy the ride.
*Interesting stylistic note, apparently American English is supposed to write this in two words as “roller coaster”. British English is one word, “rollercoaster”. I prefer the latter, even though I’m a Usonian.
The Amusing Muse lives in South-Central Wisconsin with her husband, two elderly cats, a tank of tropical fish including one armored catfish who has hung on for 20+ years, honeybees, a couple dozen chickens and five goats. She can watch episodes of “The Simpsons” for hours on end and has a penchant for high-end, organic, free-trade peanut butter cups.